Tag Archives: small schools

‘Small Schools’: Rulers’ Education for Fascism, War

(The previous article — 2/27 –– maintained that the move to small schools enables the rulers to increase fascistic control in a sort of “creeping” fascism.)

NEW YORK CITY — Although the separate identity and sharing of resources in these small schools may not seem fascistic, the subtle effect is that the working class is falling victim to these changes without connecting them to the ruling class’s need to increasingly control our lives. Indoctrinating students in schools seems like a natural way for the ruling class to prepare them for its future imperialist wars.

The rulers’ need to control by force all aspects of society is, for them, a necessary part of capitalism in crisis. The small schools help control not only the teachers and administrators but also to “creep” fascism into students at a very young age and win youth over to the bosses’ ideology.

The fact that over 70% of this city’s school population is black and Latino gives a racist character to this manipulation of the education system, and drags conditions down for ALL students. The rulers figure the large black and Latino student body is grist for their low-wage economy to grind out super-profits for the bosses, and drives jobless youth — the “fruit” of this inferior education — to enlist in the bosses’ military to fight and die in imperialist wars.

The small schools deepen the divisions the ruling class pushes on the working class. Not only does the working-class student suffer racism, nationalism and sexism, but the small school intensifies capitalist individualism under the guise of “school identity.” In one high school divided into smaller schools, the new schools insisted on “branding” — identifying each school in the building so visitors would know each school’s location. But this branding also separates the students and punishes those who were not present in the area of “their” school. Many students often faced disciplinary action because they traveled to their next class down the “wrong” staircase or hallway.

In one school that was “phasing out” of the building, students had classes in two separate areas, divided by one or more of the small schools. This caused them to arrive late to class because they had to walk around the small schools to avoid “trespassing” down their hallways. Often siblings would attend different small schools in the same building, causing problems when one sister tried to visit another attending a separate school in the building.

The administrators claimed the separation of the student bodies helped students focus on their studies. But in reality the rulers’ need for more control over the students in particular is the real reason behind this identity branding. The tightening of student movement is a form of preparing youth for future fascistic control.

The administrators in these small schools further push capitalist individualism by either having a dress code or a uniform students must wear while in school. Some schools have T-shirts and sweatshirts with the school logos on them to further link a student to a particular school. While there have always been school uniforms and dress codes, this new “branding” facilitates administrator’s control of the student body.

Many of these small schools are housed three or four to a building. Within the one building students must fight for resources that once served one school but now must accommodate three or four. Contrary to popular belief, small schools do not mean smaller class size. Most of the small schools face the same over-crowding as their larger counterparts. In addition, four separate schools have to share one gymnasium, making it difficult to schedule classes from four different schools in one gym.

Not only are students being short-changed in gym class, but they must share cafeterias, auditoriums and other areas of the building. At one small Brooklyn school, students were given gym classes without a certified gym teacher. Swimming classes were led by a teacher without lifeguard training, which is supposedly mandated by State Department of Education regulations. Worse, it’s life threatening for students as well.

Students are also being trapped into “theme” schools, although many “themes” are not real. Theater schools have no theater programs; law schools have no legal programs, etc. This indoctrinates youth into a lock-step way of thinking. And 12- and 13-year-olds are choosing — or being placed in — these schools without being allowed transfers (except for hardship or safety reasons). That’s fascistic.

Overall, this small-school movement is just another way the ruling class uses the education system — as they’ve done in the large schools — to herd students in the direction of supporting the bosses’ aims: a low-wage police state at home and as cannon fodder for imperialist war abroad.

(Next: The union’s role in this movement.)

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‘Small Schools’ Ploy Part of Bosses’ ‘Creeping’ Fascism

NEW YORK CITY — In discussions with friends, I’ve often mentioned that the working class is living under growing fascist conditions, but some disagree. They ask, “Are storm troopers kicking down the door to your house? If not, then we don’t have fascism.”

But the ruling class doesn’t want to control the working class by kicking down doors all the time (although sometimes it does. see Shades of Hitler, p.7). Some control is more subtle, slowly adding more and more fascist conditions over time so we’re deep in the middle of it before we know what hit us. For communists, it’s important to fight such trends.

Throughout the country there is a rush toward replacing larger schools with smaller ones. Among my friends with whom I work in our school I’ve raised the idea that this move is really “creeping” fascism. In New York City, the Chancellor has mandated the closing of large comprehensive high schools to be replaced by smaller ones, as is happening in my school.

They tell us the large schools are “not meeting students’ educational needs.” Although our school was improving somewhat, the bosses say it “wasn’t improving fast enough.”

The attack has a distinctly racist character since the majority of the school closings are in predominately black and Latino working-class neighborhoods. Currently the bosses feel they don’t have enough support or soldiers for their wars and think that one way to change this is to win these youth in the schools, and in the classroom, to patriotic support of their imperialist adventures.

I told my colleagues the rulers are closing the large schools to maintain more control, especially in the classroom. The students are their main targets.

Fascism in Schools Has Many Forms

This strategy is fascist for several reasons. These small schools have fewer students (although the same large class size) and so needed staff is also smaller, which is much easier to watch and control than a larger one.

Few veteran teachers are hired at the small schools. Mostly younger, newer teachers staff them. The latter aren’t tenured and usually are on probation, blunting their ability to fight-back against attacks on students and staff. A “55/25” proposal — allowing a teacher with 25 years of service to retire at 55 without penalty — is being dangled before more experienced teachers.

Small-school principals have greater power over the staff. At one Brooklyn school a principal rated 10 of 40 teachers “unsatisfactory.” At another school, union meetings are practically forbidden. When some staff did call one, they were ordered into the principal’s office to explain their action. The administration more easily knows everything occurring at these schools, making organizing more difficult.

The greatest fascist danger at these schools is the change in the relationship between the working class and the ruling class. Communists believe that the class interests of teachers, students and parents are opposed to the administration’s (bosses’) interests. These small schools spread a “we” philosophy, the “we” uniting the staff and administration. If one doesn’t follow the principal’s goal for student achievement, that teacher is ostracized from the rest of the staff.

For example, many teachers in these small schools work hours on their own time, without being paid overtime. If teachers refuse, they’re labeled “slackers.” Teachers go along with this anti-working-class thinking unwittingly, furthering fascism’s talons in the backs of the workers.

The majority of these small schools are housed — up to three or four — in a structure that used to contain one large school. The building is carved up into different sections to fit each school, often leading to a fight for space. Students who happen to wander down the “wrong” hallway may be considered “trespassers,” subjecting them to disciplinary action.

The fight over space forces students to share the little existing space. Gymnasiums and cafeterias that once served one school must now accommodate up to four schools. This not only pits staff members against each other, but also student against student.

School Closing Is Attack
on Working Class

The news that our school was closing devastated most of my colleagues. Many have been there 20 years or more. For some, this was the only school at which they’ve taught. The immediate response was depression, then anger (usually toward the principal or other administrators) and then fear — from not knowing where they’ll teach next year, not knowing what will happen next.

Many might not recognize this as growing fascism, but this is how it “creeps” into our lives, with workers concentrating on where to go next rather than on organizing. As workers “adjust” and get used to this level of attack by the bosses, it only enables the rulers to go further. This move to smaller schools is an attack on the working class, not “just another change in the schools.”

As we fight it, we must win teachers, students and parents not only to see it as growing fascism, but also to understand why the rulers are resorting to such attacks — the better to control us and win the youth, in preparation for unending wars against imperialist rivals. Ultimately, only communist revolution can defeat fascism because its source: capitalism.J Red Teacher

(Series continues next issue)

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